Monday, January 21, 2013

Intel Preps Thin Fiber Optics to Shuffle Data Between Computers

IDG News Service (01/16/13) Agam Shah

Intel is developing thin fiber optics that will use lasers and light as a faster way to move data inside computers.  The technology will be implemented at the motherboard and rack levels and use light to move data between storage, networking, and computing resources.  The silicon photonics technology will be part of a new generation of servers that will need faster networking, storage, and processing subsystems, says Intel's Justin Rattner.  He notes that silicon photonics could enable communication at speeds of 100 Gbps, and transfer data at high speeds while using less power compared to copper cables.  The technology also could consolidate power supplies and fans in a data center, lowering component costs.  After the infrastructure with silicon photonics is in place, server designs could change even further, Rattner says.  Intel is working with Facebook to define new server technologies that will lead to the decoupling of computing, networking, and storage resources.  Critical to this step is "the introduction of silicon photonics in not just the inter-rack fabric, but also the intra-rack fabric," Rattner says.  "Over time you will see the server communication infrastructure, which includes switches, to include photonics," says analyst Dean McCarron.